As a caregiver for a loved one or senior, living an hour or hundreds of miles away means facing difficult and complex challenges. Unfortunately, this is a reality many caregivers have no choice but to face.
According to a study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP, 15% of the estimated 34 million Americans who provide care to older family members can be considered long-distance caregivers, defined as living an hour or more away from their relative.
Living away from an aging parent can have an impact on one’s family life, finances, and career, not to mention emotional well being. It often requires long-distance caregivers to miss work to care for their relatives, manage and supervise paid care providers from a distance, and feel left out of decisions made by healthcare professionals or other family members who live closer. Here are a few tips for long-distance caregivers that can help make these challenges a little easier.
If you are the primary caregiver, identify someone you can trust to be your eyes and ears when you’re not available. This may mean counting on a trusted neighbor or friend or hiring a licensed home health care agency. This will allow you some piece of mind knowing there is someone who could check in or find help until you get there.
Professional home care services can range from non-medical care (for companionship, shopping, cleaning, etc) for several hours a week to live-in medical services (as provided by a trained home health aide). Depending on the situation, your loved one might need intensive assistance while you are not there. Any agency being considered should include 24/7 on-call availability.
Find senior resources located near your loved one to identify available programs. These may range from Meals on Wheels to adult day care programs. These programs will help you ensure your elderly loved one is getting the care he or she needs even when you aren’t there. The process can begin by contacting the local Office of the Aging.
Another tip for long-distance caregivers is to make the most out of your visits. When you do go to visit your loved one, keep an eye out for possible safety hazards in the relative’s home.This may include problems like loose rugs, poor lighting, faulty steps, and unsafe clutter. The visits are also a great time to install safety measures (such as grab bars in the shower or a higher toilet seat).
Purchasing a personal emergency response system is another great tip for long-distance caregivers. These systems provide elderly loved ones with a pendant, to be worn at all times, that will trigger a call to an emergency vehicle and the caregiver should he or she fall or become ill. This will ensure that your
loved one will have a way to get help during an emergency, even if you are not there.
Caring for a loved one that is far away can seem stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. These tips for long-distance caregivers can provide some peace of mind and help you make sure your loved one is in good hands.
Angels Senior Home Solutions is a based-in-faith company that provides in-home healthcare and personal care services for seniors. We are pleased to provide caregivers that help to restore independence, health and confidence to the elderly.
For more information, please visit our website at www.angelsinhome.com.